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Petroleum & Environmental

Park et al., J Pet Environ Biotechnol 2014, 5:4


http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2157-7463.1000183

Biotechnology
Research Article

Open Access

Experimental Investigation of Polymer Adsorption-Induced Permeability


Reduction in Low Permeability Reservoirs
Hyemin Park, Jinju Han, Minkyu Lee, Youngho Jang and Wonmo Sung*
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Engineering, Hanyang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Abstract
The polymer retention during polymer flooding causes reduction in pore throat size which can be detrimental to oil
recovery. Especially, in low permeability reservoir unlikely in high permeability system, EOR effect of polymer flooding
would not excel comparing to water flooding because of the polymer adsorption onto grain surface. This phenomenon
is more significant as higher concentration of polymer solution is injected. In this study, we investigated oil recovery
process during polymer flooding for a quarter of 2D 5-spot pattern of low permeability sandstone slab, in which the
injected polymer solution flows in different shear rates corresponding to streamlines. The results showed that the
ultimate recovery was 1.9 times higher in concentration of 1,000 ppm case than 0 ppm. The polymer adsorption layer
formed during the flooding reduced the effective permeability of 1,000 ppm polymer solution. Therefore, it facilitated
the oil flow and the stage of water-cut reaching 99% was slackened off.

Keywords: Polymer retention; Low permeability reservoirs;


Permeability; Polymer adsorption

system can affect the polymer adsorption, thus we expected to observe


the effect of polymer adsorption during the injection time.

Introduction

Experimental System

Polymer flooding is a mature technology of chemical EOR


method that increases the sweep efficiency and the oil recovery by
injecting viscous polymer solution. However, polymer retention in
porous media such as adsorption onto grain surface and mechanical
entrapment causes the reduction in polymer slug and the mobility
reduction efficiency at the location away from the injection well can
be deteriorated. Meanwhile, the phenomena of adsorbed polymer layer
and mechanical entrapment can make the effect of preventing excessive
water production. To understand the mechanisms that enable water
permeability reduction, several experimental studies have investigated
the resulting effect of polymer adsorption [1-5].

Two dimensional flooding apparatus

The previous researches indicate a selective action of the polymer


with a significant reduction in the relative permeability to water with
respect to the relative permeability to oil. Cordova et al. [6] showed
polymer adsorption reduced the water permeability regardless of the
wettability and relatively facilitated the oil flow. Barreau et al. [7] used
capillary tube filled with porous medium in the polymer flooding
experiment. They yielded the thickness of polymer adsorption layer
with the effective permeability change and found out that the adsorption
layer could affect the fluid flow. Chauveteau et al. [8] revealed that when
polymer is injected at low shear rates, the adsorbed layer thickness
does not depend on the injection rate. When the injection occurs at
higher shear rates, the adsorbed layer thickness increases slowly up to
some maximum values, increasing with the injection rate. Although
the polymer adsorption plays a significant role in relative permeability
modification to control the water production, it results in permeability
reduction of porous media.
In this work, we attempted to comprehend the effect of polymer
adsorption on reducing the water production and enhancing the oil
recovery. Also, we intended to explain how the effect of reduction in the
relative permeability to water conflicted with the decrease in pore throat
size by polymer adsorption layer, therefore, affected to EOR efficiency
with the polymer concentration. This experiment has been conducted
for two dimensional 5-spot pattern of low permeable sandstone plate.
The flow velocity in streamlines for locations in two dimensional
J Pet Environ Biotechnol
ISSN: 2157-7463 JPEB, an open access journal

A flooding apparatus has been set up to conduct the two


dimensional horizontal polymer flooding experiments (Figure 1). The
experiment was conducted in a quarter of 5-spot pattern to represent
real field problem such as viscous fingering and channeling by applying
injection methods. The main components of the flooding apparatus are
cylindrical plate holder for two dimensional slab (core holder) (Figure
2), fluid storage vessels, displacement pumps, effluent collector, and
data acquisition system.

Sandstone plate sample


For the two dimensional flow experiments, sister gray berea
sandstone slab in dimension of 20 * 20 * 2 cm was used. Their properties
were measured to be 20.1% of porosity and 41.2 mD of permeability.
The system permeability was measured by injection of brine in direct
line drive with all the open ports and calculated according to the Darcy
flow equation [9]. The plate samples were washed and dried in an oven
at 100C for 24 hours and saturated with brine and oil to the target
initial experiment condition [10].

Fluids
The oil used in this study is Shell Morlina S2BL 10 which has
10 cSt at 40C. And the synthetic model of 2% salinity brines were
applied in the system using 83 wt.-% NaCl and 17 wt.-% CaCl2 from
*Corresponding author: Wonmo Sung, Department of Natural Resources and
Environmental Engineering, Hanyang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea, Tel: 822-2220-0414; E-mail: wmsung@hanyang.ac.kr
Received May 24, 2014; Accepted July 25, 2014; Published August 01, 2014
Citation: Park H, Han J, Lee M, Jang Y, Sung W (2014) Experimental Investigation
of Polymer Adsorption-Induced Permeability Reduction in Low Permeability
Reservoirs. J Pet Environ Biotechnol 5: 183. doi:10.4172/2157-7463.1000183
Copyright: 2014 Park H, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under
the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted
use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and
source are credited.

Volume 5 Issue 4 1000183

Citation: Park H, Han J, Lee M, Jang Y, Sung W (2014) Experimental Investigation of Polymer Adsorption-Induced Permeability Reduction in Low
Permeability Reservoirs. J Pet Environ Biotechnol 5: 183. doi:10.4172/2157-7463.1000183

Page 2 of 4

Figure 1: Schematic of polymer flooding system.

Figure 2: Two dimensional flow apparatus and opening port for a quarter of 5-spot pattern.

Winlab, UK. All experiments in this study were performed with


HPAM. The polymer 3330s with molecular weight of 8 million darton
was provided by SNF and was used as received in dry powder form.
Polymer solutions were prepared by dissolving the required amount
of polymer in 2% NaCl brine, according to the procedure described
in the American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice
63. Stock solutions of polymer at 5,000 ppm by weight were prepared.
Lower concentrations were diluted from the stock solution with the
required amount of make-up brine. Polymer solutions were prepared
by the slow addition of the polymer powder to the brine in a vortex
created by a magnetic stirrer, gentle agitation was maintained overnight
for complete polymer dissolution. To remove all microgels, the polymer
solution was filtered to have lower filtration ratio than 1.2.

Results and Discussion


Firstly, the experiments have been conducted to examine the effect
of polymer concentration on oil recovery by injecting 0 ppm (brine)
and 1,000 ppm polymer solution which had 0.91 cp and 3.42 cp at
shear rate of 100 s-1, respectively. All fluids were injected at 0.124 ml/
min which is 1 ft/day of frontal velocity. We investigated the EOR effect
corresponding to polymer concentration by considering the polymer
J Pet Environ Biotechnol
ISSN: 2157-7463 JPEB, an open access journal

adsorption onto the grain surface and the entrapment of polymer in the
low permeability system.
The oil recovery measured for the case of 0 ppm of polymer solution
(brine) injection showed that oil was barely produced after 20.1 hours
(0.96 PV) of fluid injected as water-cut increased to 99%. In the case
of 1,000 ppm solution injection, water-cut maintained to be 5% to
10% which is less than 0 ppm injection case, and oil recovery steadily
increased during 46.7 hours (2.17 PV) injection and the ultimate
recovery was 1.9 times higher in comparison as shown in Figures 3-5.
The pressure data measured at injection and production port indicated
that the pressure difference between two ports was stable for the 0 ppm
case. On the other hand, in the case of 1,000 ppm, injected polymer
adsorbed onto the grain surface and was entrapped in the pore structure.
That polymer retention caused the continuous increase in the injection
pressure and reached to the maximum pressure at 2.17 PV injections.
The collected pressure data was used to yield the effective permeability
of polymer solution by the Darcy flow equation. For both cases, after
solutions were injected for 67 hours, the effective permeability of
1,000 ppm polymer solution was calculated to be 1.05 mD which was
relatively lower than 0 ppm having 4.36 mD. According to the results,
it was figured out that the effective permeability of injection fluid

Volume 5 Issue 4 1000183

Citation: Park H, Han J, Lee M, Jang Y, Sung W (2014) Experimental Investigation of Polymer Adsorption-Induced Permeability Reduction in Low
Permeability Reservoirs. J Pet Environ Biotechnol 5: 183. doi:10.4172/2157-7463.1000183

Page 3 of 4
and entrapment during polymer flooding with 1,000 ppm solution.
Also, the effective permeability of injection fluid also reduced during
the flooding which affected the effluent having lowered water-cut and
the effective permeability of oil became favorable so the oil recovery
was enhanced. Therefore, application of polymer flooding to low
permeability reservoirs can reduce the permeability even lower but
still it enhances the oil recovery and decreases water production with
proper concentration.

Summary and Conclusion

Figure 3: Oil recovery from polymer flooding with concentrations.

Figure 4: Water-cut results from polymer flooding with concentrations.


Water-cut results from polymer flooding with concentrations.

We conducted the experiment to investigate permeability reduction


by polymer adsorption during polymer flooding particularly in
low permeability reservoirs. The results showed that the ultimate oil
recovery was 1.9 times higher in concentration of 1,000 ppm case
than 0 ppm (brine). The polymer adsorption layer formed during the
flooding reduced the effective permeability of 1,000 ppm polymer
solution. Therefore, it facilitated the oil flow and the stage of water-cut
reaching 99% was slackened off.

Figure 5: Pressure difference between injection and production port


during polymer flooding.

decreased more for the higher polymer concentration and when the
effective permeability reduced to lower, it facilitated the oil flow and the
stage of water-cut reaching 99% was slackened off 26.6 hours (1.2 PV).
Then, we calculated the permeability reduction by polymer
adsorption using the pressure data measured during the brine
injection after polymer flooding. We assumed that the remaining
polymer solution inside the pore including entrapped polymer
except the adsorbed polymer could be removed by injecting the
sufficient amount of brine after polymer flooding. When brine was
injected after finishing the 1,000 ppm polymer flooding, the pressure
difference between the injection and production ports dropped from
72.5 psi to 13.6 psi as shown in Figure 6. The brine permeability was
computed to be 1.6 mD, which is a huge drop compared to the initial
brine permeability of 41.2 mD. This result can be comprehended that
the injected polymer molecular adsorbed onto the grain surface and
reduced the size of the pore throat. To recapitulate, it is a fact that the
polymer adsorption made the system permeability reduced, however,
the system pressure were under the maximum allowable pressure
though the injection pressure increased due to the polymer adsorption
J Pet Environ Biotechnol
ISSN: 2157-7463 JPEB, an open access journal

Figure 6: Pressure difference between injection and production port


during brine injection after polymer flooding.

Volume 5 Issue 4 1000183

Citation: Park H, Han J, Lee M, Jang Y, Sung W (2014) Experimental Investigation of Polymer Adsorption-Induced Permeability Reduction in Low
Permeability Reservoirs. J Pet Environ Biotechnol 5: 183. doi:10.4172/2157-7463.1000183

Page 4 of 4
Acknowledgement
This work was supported by the Energy Efficiency & Resources of the Korea
Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP) grant funded by
the Korea Government Ministry of Knowledge Economy. (No. 20122010300020).

5. Lee WC, Lee YS, Kim KH, Lee KJ, Sung WM, et al. (2011) Investigation of gas
and water coning behavior for the enhancement of oil production. Korean J
Chem Eng 28: 2102-2109.

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Citation: Park H, Han J, Lee M, Jang Y, Sung W (2014) Experimental


Investigation of Polymer Adsorption-Induced Permeability Reduction in Low
Permeability Reservoirs. J Pet Environ Biotechnol 5: 183. doi:10.4172/21577463.1000183

J Pet Environ Biotechnol


ISSN: 2157-7463 JPEB, an open access journal

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